It was 5:45 pm on what would have been Lynne and Ryan’s wedding day when we all stepped out of our cars just off of South Congress behind Home Slice Pizza. A few weeks before, they had made the painful decision to postpone their May 24th wedding because of COVID 19. I had a few butterflies in my stomach because this session was to be their “redeem the day” session, and idea that I love for all couples who have had to postpone their weddings. Obviously, I wanted it to be incredible for them! Expectations were high because we had a BLAST at their Laguna Gloria engagement session, and these were to be the images they’d remember as their celebratory take on what their original wedding day ended up looking like.
I smiled when I saw them standing on the street, because, by chance, we’d all gotten there exactly 15 minutes before we said we’d meet up. Despite weather predictions calling for thunderstorms all week, we’d had classic, temperate spring weather in Austin. Earlier in the week I’d even had some shoots that defied all weather odds and turned out glowy and gorgeous, so when I looked at the weather for this day, I felt that deciding to trusting Texas and keeping the session on the schedule was the best call. Still, on the way I had seen a few clouds overhead, so our early arrivals boded well to get ahead of any bad weather that might try and ruin their “redeem the day” shoot. Turns out, Texas had other plans.
Despite clear sunnies skies all day, the actual second I stepped out of my car and pulled out my camera bag, a big grumpy sounding thunder boomed overhead. Desperately wanting to get in front of whatever was looming, I said, “Well, let’s get started!” We were walking toward Congress when the sprinkling started. Wanting to avoid getting wet at the beginning of the shoot, we took shelter under a church awning nearby. Feeling the breeze pick up a little bit, we laughed at the crazy timing. Pulling up my radar apps on my phone, I was thinking things could still turn around until it started hailing. Yes, it started hailing!! I’m thinking, “Well, FANTASTIC! This is their redeem the day session and it’s possibly the worst weather of my life and certainly the worst that I’ve ever had at a photo shoot, EVER!!” It appeared none of this was really phasing Lynne or Ryan, who were both their normal upbeat and chipper selves, despite all of us casually glancing over at our cars every once in a while wondering if the hail would do any permanent damage. I mean I’m laughing just typing all of this because truly, this was a hilarious moment. They’re all dressed up, I’m ready to make this the best two hours of their lives and redeem the heck out of a crummy situation, and IT IS HAILING ON US. LIKE, WHAT EVEN?!
We ended up sitting under that church awning for about an hour and a half, watching it pour and pour, hail and hail, all over the parking lot our little shelter was facing. Despite the circumstance, we actually had a really good time under there! We laughed about Tik Tok, got thorough updates on each other’s lives, and most importantly, deeply marveled at the blessing in disguise it was that they ended up having to postpone their wedding. We had planned to meet up for their session at what would have been their ceremony time. Do you know what was happening at that would-have-been-their-ceremony start time? A literal flash flood, replete with quarter sized hail and lightening in abundance. It had been sunny all week long and all day long, up until the exact time they would have been starting their outdoor wedding ceremony!!!
That is a grace that is truly impossible to ignore. I think it’s what made our hour and half under that church awning so incredibly enjoyable and joyful. And it filled my heart with gratitude for them to get such a beautiful sign that May 24th indeed wasn’t the day for them to be wed. But still… I was feeling a little sad that our plans for their redeem the day session were foiled so completely. I had at least wanted their “not” wedding day to be a joyful memory, and while we all certainly received peace from that crazy storm and its assurance that postponing was be a blessing in disguise, I was still bummed that their desire to redeem the lost wedding day with a photoshoot would go unfilled… until we decided to throw all former plans into the literal wind of that storm and have their redemptive shoot ANYWAY!!!
What followed that decision can only be described as utter joy-fullness. It just so happened that the parking lot we had been staring at for an hour also sheltered some unknown person parked in their car with their headlights on and facing our awning. So, after an hour of waiting, during the heaviest part of the rain (like, torrential downpours!), Lynne and Ryan stepped out into the storm and made the absolute best of every foiled plan they’d made for this day. And with me and my camera gear tucked safely away from the rain under the awning, I got to document one of the most special, redemptive, shoots of my life.
Lynne and Ryan danced through the storm. But thing is, they’d been dancing through a greater storm for months already. They’d been wading through the rough waters of COVID 19 and taking every lightening strike and boom of thunder in stride. They had made the hard, sad choice to postpone their plans for later, but they hadn’t let that steal their joy. And in a way that only God can do, their “would have been” wedding day was transformed into the most insanely beautiful metaphor for their life at that moment, and for all of us wading through this unprecedented time.
I can’t tell you all the ways this shoot ministered to my heart. I needed it. Maybe you do, too? I hope this story and these images will encourage you to do what Lynne and Ryan chose to do: dance through the hard, scary things and have hope and joy for tomorrow. I mean, even when our plans to redeem what’s already been lost get foiled, I now know that even THEN beauty can come! And it’ll be far more beautiful than anything I could have planned myself! Because I’d never trade these images or this experience for what we had originally planned for this session. If before this day I could have had some sort of magical one time use pass to prevent anything bad from happening to a photo shoot, I would have chosen this one. Yet now I look back and would never trade what we got to experience together. This redeem the day shoot did not go according to plan. But that does not mean it wasn’t redemptive. I’d never trade the beauty that Lynne and Ryan got out of their experience, and I’d never trade how God used this whole thing to make me see Him in a whole new way.
Oh, and one more little thing… Something that I always do for my couples is look up the sunset time on their wedding day. That time ends up being the one major factor that dictates their ceremony time and their entire day of timeline. When Lynne and Ryan told me they had made the decision to postpone, I wondered if they knew that a whole new wedding date would have a whole new sunset time, which could throw off their entire day of timeline and probably necessitate changing their ceremony time, which would not only necessitate contacting every single guest with the time change, but it could also ruin the entire timeline we’d planned for their wedding day.
So when I looked up the sunset time for their new wedding day, I teared up and was immediately covered in head to toe goosebumps. The sunset time for their new wedding date is the exact, down to the minute, same sunset time as their original wedding date.
There’s a line from an Elevation Worship song that’s been stuck in my head for weeks. It perfectly summarizes this blog post, this story, and this season we’re in with COVID 19. It claims victory over disaster and it tells me that every storm I face is one I can dance through as long as I’m holding the hand of Jesus. So I’ll leave you with that song lyric to run through your head as you look at the images below!! Here’s to dancing through storms!
“What the enemy meant for evil, You turn it for good.”
Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this super special blog post! In the comments below, let me know what you thought about it!
If you’re a bride planning a wedding in 2020 or 2021, I’d love to be your photographer! Head over to my connect page to inquire and reserve your wedding date with me!
PS. Are you as in love with these two as I am? I just love this #EBooneBride of mine and guess what?! She’s got a blog!! Head over to Lynne’s wedding planning blog, Tie The Knot in Style for more of their cuteness!